No Differences Between Beetroot Juice and Placebo on Competitive 5-km Running Performance: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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  • 1 Canterbury Christ Church University
  • 2 Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)
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The authors examine the effect of an acute dose of beetroot juice on endurance running performance in “real-world” competitive settings. In total, 70 recreational runners (mean ± SD: age = 33.3 ± 12.3 years, training history = 11.9 ± 8.1 years, and hours per week training = 5.9 ± 3.5) completed a quasi-randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 5-km competitive time trials. Participants performed four trials separated by 1 week in the order of prebaseline, two experimental, and one postbaseline. Experimental trials consisted of the administration of 70-ml nitrate-rich beetroot juice (containing ∼4.1 mmol of nitrate, Beet It Sport®) or nitrate-depleted placebo (containing ∼0.04 mmol of nitrate, Beet It Sport®) 2.5 hr prior to time trials. Time to complete 5 km was recorded for each trial. No differences were shown between pre- and postbaseline (p = .128, coefficient variation = 2.66%). The average of these two trials is therefore used as baseline. Compared with baseline, participants ran faster with beetroot juice (mean differences = 22.2 ± 5.0 s, p < .001, d = 0.08) and placebo (22.9 ± 4.5 s, p < .001, d = 0.09). No differences in times were shown between beetroot juice and placebo (0.8 ± 5.7 s, p < .875, d = 0.00). These results indicate that an acute dose of beetroot juice does not improve competitive 5-km time-trial performance in recreational runners compared with placebo.

Hurst and Coleman are with the School of Human and Life Sciences, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, United Kingdom. Saunders is with the Human Physical Performance Team, Defence Security Analysis Division, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), Porton Down, United Kingdom.

Hurst (philip.hurst@canterbury.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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